Review: 21313 Ship In A Bottle

LEGO fan Jake Sadovich had what many would consider a crazy idea – building a ship in a bottle out of LEGO. Not just the ship, but the bottle too.

Well that crazy idea eventually landed on the LEGO Ideas website and very quickly gained the 10,000 votes needed to become an official LEGO set.

21313 Ship In a Bottle Ship Banner

After extensive and polarising redesigns from the LEGO set designers the final set is now available to purchase.

Does the set capture the magic of a ship in a bottle? Have the design choices ruined the original idea? Read on to find out what I think of 21313 Ship In a Bottle.

Be sure to read to the end of the article for the extensive image gallery.

The Build

The build for this set is split up over a set of numbered bags from 1 to 4, and those 4 different builds are all vastly different. There are different techniques, outcomes and styles.

The Ship

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While traditional ships in bottles are built within the bottle using an incredible amount of skill and patience this set makes things a lot easier by getting you to build the ship first.

I completely underestimated the build of the ship. It is thoroughly complex and interesting. It’s not difficult but I found it entertaining. You are constantly switching directions thanks to an abundance of SNOT elements. The sides of the stern are comprised of this weird mash of various plates, and then you attach them and they line up perfectly and look great. The same is true for the bow with plates and slopes that somehow form the perfect curves.

The deck features several teal elements that get hidden away. I think the designers were just helping the newly returned colour spread a little more.

The canons on the side of the ship are one that perfectionists will want to take their time aligning properly. The 1×1 round element with bar can be a pain to get perfectly straight.

The two centre masts are identical in construction and can be a little bit fiddly to put together with small elements such as the minifigure neck bracket used. I also found it a bit fiddly to get everything lining up perfectly.

The foremast is essentially the same as the two others, just with a single sail instead of two.

My tip with the masts is to make sure that they are pressed in to the deck as much as possible. It will come in handy later.

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Bottle – Part One

Tipping out the contents of bag number two was quite bizarre – all but 4 of the elements are clear. I have never seen so many clear elements at the same time for a build before. I suggest that you take a few minutes here and separate them out. You don’t want to be looking through a huge pile of clear elements every step. Taking that time at the start is going to be much more efficient.

21313 Ship In a Bottle Parts

I’d also suggest that this is the point where you break out the gloves. Clear elements means lots of fingerprints.

I have to give credit to the set designer for the bottom of the bottle. If somebody told me that I had to design something round, flat and clear I would be stumped. The solution turns out to be a puzzle of small clear elements. There’s 1x1s, there’s cheese slopes, headlight bricks and 1×2 plates. Lots of each. They all come together to create something that doesn’t look nearly as complicated as it actually is. If you look closely at the photo of this part you can start to make out just how many elements go in to it. It was a really interesting build experience. This part actually has a 1:1 diagram during the instructions so you can check that you’ve got it right.

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Once the base is done the rest of the bottle uses larger clear elements with small pieces mixed in to help strengthen the structure. There is also connection points for the ship.

The ship gets placed inside and this half of the bottle finished around it. This is where it helps to have pushed the masts in as much as possible, because the ship just fits. The top of the mast literally touches the side of the bottle.

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The Water

There are 3 bags with the number 3, and all just contain 1×1 round elements in trans blue. This is the water that goes in the bottom of the bottle.

The instructions for this part of the build will potentially be an iconic LEGO instruction in the future – tip 284 pieces in to the model. Here’s a video that shows just what that is like. The sound is amazing.

Bottle – Part Two

Once the water is added the final part of the bottle is built. This section features the top half of the bottle, the neck and ‘cork’.

The cork is built first around a centre axle. A technic pin with stud allows the printed round tile to be attached. The clear curved elements are then added to create the neck.

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Finally the 4 huge curved elements are added. This pieces really are the cornerstone of the whole bottle. They dictate the shape and instantly add a lot of volume to the build.

Once the 4 corners are added the two halves of the bottle come together. While the build is fairly solid it’s not unbreakable so this part was taken very carefully. If something goes wrong you’ll be picking up 284 1×1 rounds.

The Stand

The final part of the build is the display stand. This is probably my least favourite part of the build. It isn’t boring by any means with plenty of interesting parts usage but the 4 corners of the stand are all fairly similar in terms of their construction, so by the time you get to 4th one your kind of over it. They are different so you can’t build all of them at once, which I think makes it worse.

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The highlight of the stand though is the centre element with the compass. It features more of those hidden teal elements and some clever upside down building.

The End Result

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When I am building a set for review I always take notes so that I can read back what my thoughts were at the time. Just after the two halves of the bottle came together I wrote the following: “Holy s#!t, it’s a bottle. That’s amazing”.

I feel like that does a good job of describing that part of the build. When those two halves come together it becomes one of those things where you are actually shocked that it’s built out of LEGO. It’s curved and smooth and clear. That’s not what LEGO is supposed to look like.

A lot has been said about the design of the ship and how it doesn’t look as good as the one in the original submission but I feel that it’s a factor of downscaling the bottle. Not everybody is going to agree with this but I honestly don’t think a bigger bottle would have worked. I think the size that LEGO have gone with is the correct choice.

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That means that the ship is smaller and less detailed than the submission but by no means does the ship look bad. I love the design of the Leviathan symbol on the sails – especially the fact that these are printed elements. I also love the overall shape.

The canons aren’t perfect but I am not sure how else they could have been done at the sale of the rest of the ship.

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One obvious difference from the submitted version is that there is no string to represent rigging. It’s honestly something that I am curious about adding back in. I am tempted to check that out in another article.

I feel that the stand in the set is better than the one in the original submission. I think it strikes the right balance between details and not distracting from the bottle or ship. The compass element is wonderfully decorated with printing on the underside. While this was a logistical constraint I think the effect actually looks great.

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The printed nameplate is a nice addition and I’m so glad that its not a sticker.

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This is probably one of my favourite display pieces. It’s one of those models that just looks fantastic on a shelf. I feel like photos struggle to do it justice. Because so much of the build is clear it’s not immediate just how much presence it has.

The construction of this set was one of the most enjoyable builds I have had in a while and the end result is something that I can’t wait to make room for on a shelf at home.

Value For Money

This is the part of the review that I have been dreading. I am so conflicted on this topic because while I absolutely loved the build experience and the finished set – it’s expensive. I don’t know if it is too expensive.

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If this set came in at $99.99 I would be telling you all to go an order one right now. At $119.99 it’s a tougher sell. If you have read the review and think the set looks good I honestly don’t think you will regret buying it at all.

I don’t know when or even if this will come to local retail but if it does and ends up 20% off then it is without a doubt worth $95.

This set is a tricky one to value because the large clear panels are not cheap to produce, but the part count is somewhat inflated by the 284 1×1 rounds.

Looking at a selection of over 130 sets from 2018 the average price per part is $0.170. The Ship in a bottle set has a price per part of $0.12. If you take out the ‘water’ part of the set the price per part is $0.177 which is only just above the average.

21313 Ship In a Bottle is currently on back-order at LEGO online.

Image Gallery

This was a supported review, with the set provided by LEGO. Supported reviews always contain my unbiased opinion on the subject. Provision of review products/services does not guarantee favourable coverage.

3 Responses to Review: 21313 Ship In A Bottle

  1. Nekoo says:

    I think it’s a great looking set but not at that price. Plus the boat is kinda boring in this one where as the one before just really looked awesome.

  2. Mark says:

    Great review! I purchased 2 sets to get the 60th anniversary set & used some of my VIP points to get the ship in a bottle sets for $100 each. The finished product looks fabulous on the mantle & has already been the source of many conversations over a drink with friends. For me, this set show cases what’s best about Lego ideas.

  3. Owen says:

    Great review – I’m conflicted on this one. It’s an awesome display piece and after reading your review I really want to build one but I don’t display much lego because they are inclined to meet with disaster and the thought of attempting to retrieve all that trans blue from the floor doesn’t appeal at all.

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